How to Improve Fine Motor Skills in Your Preschooler

The ability to correctly grasp a pencil is achieved after the large and small muscles have gone through stages. There is a process of development called “big to small” and “proximal to distal”. This means that children develop the larger muscles of the trunk, shoulders, and arms before the smaller muscles of the hands, wrists, and fingers. Using the finger muscles to “correctly” grasp a pencil can only be accomplished when the muscles are strong enough and the child is interested and willing.

Developing fine motor skills can be frustrating and challenging for some children. Watch your child’s level of frustration. Use praise and rewards for accomplishments. Gradually increase the time of activities. This play/work time needs to be pleasurable, attainable, and rewarding so that your child will continue to engage and make progress.
Young children learn through sensory-motor integration. They enjoy learning with interesting textures and materials. The following activities will foster fine motor skills:
Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills:
  • Pouring sand, water, salt, sugar, rice, or beans using bowls, funnels, spoons, cups, tubes, rolls, colander
  • Sorting small objects with interesting textures like cotton balls, pastas, sponges, and rocks placing them into egg cartons
  • Pushing objects through a slot like pennies or buttons into a Piggy Bank or container with a slit in lid; pushing pegs into a board
  • Picking up marbles and putting them in a jar; for variety, have child stand up and drop marbles into jar or drop balls or other small objects into container or sack
  • Building with blocks, logs, legos
  • Lacing with lacing cards – poking string through holes and pulling
  • Grasping wooden puzzles pieces and placing correctly
  • Arranging rocks, leaves, beans, cards, pasta, sticks or whatever interests child
  • Picking stickers off page and successfully placing onto something
  • Playing with Play Dough and clay: pulling, pressing, stretching, rolling, pounding, squeezing, pinching
  • Squeezing glue bottles, water guns, sponges
  • Shaking bottles of glitter
  • Beading necklaces with yarn or pasta wheels and lacing string
  • Pushing pipe cleaners into foam shapes with center cut out or push into colanders
  • Marking with fat pencils, crayons, markers, and sidewalk chalk
  • Cutting with child safety scissors which are blunt and fits hand. Opening and closing the scissors as well as cutting increases hand strength.

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